FIRST MISSION: March 7-11, 2022
Gear & Equipment Delivered
Food supplies for refugees
On March 7 I loaded up the 2003 Toyota RAV 4 “Fighting Vehicle” which is an up-gunned, up-armored version, similar to an HumVee but in fact has no armor and no guns, but with greater fuel efficiency and lots of cargo capacity when you take the seats out. It had twin mounted Tibetan prayer wheels that spin when you drive, with prayers for peace in Ukraine.
I carried a load of high nutrition single serving, no preparation foods for refugees and set out on a 1500km drive to the Slovakian border with Ukraine near Uzhhorod, Ukraine. Eastern Slovia is pretty impoverished, a real neglected part of Europe. Things were run down, the roads were terrible and I kind of wondered if the Russians had already been there. In any case they neeed some wire brushes and paint there for sure.
Due to bad roads, it took 2.5 days to arrive at the main crossing border. Lots of Slovakian military and police and I got stopped a ways short of the border. No crossing allowed. But I could wander up to the border area and it was like a very sad music festival with tents and lots of people milling about, lots of aid workers and tons of police (and no music). Everyone sad, serious and stressed. Women and children were coming across and some of them were being met by people from all over the EU; Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Czech Republic, etc. Those were prearranged meetings. There were lots of aid organizations. Since I was not allowed to cross into Ukraine, I asked the aid groups to take my food supplies. They had to decline because my car was a kilometer away and it would take about ten people to carry heavy loads all the way back.
It was suggested that I go to a”nearby” border crossing that is for foot traffic only. I arrived at that border crossing and once again was stopped far short of the border and told to park in a big open field where there were just a couple of other cars. I thought, “well this looks pretty stupid, what am I supposed to do out there in the field". But once again I wandered forward and by asking around I found an aid worker from Slovakia, Daniel, who was willing to spend some effort helping me.
They couldn't take my food due to a lack of storage. We went back to the soldiers and asked to drive forward to drop the stuff at aid stations on the boarder. No dice. He got to thinking about and we went back again to the soldiers and he talked with them once again and they waved us forward. I asked what he had done. He said, he lied to them and said the mayor of the town had requested my load of supplies. So we drove into town and went to the town hall. There he asked the people at the town hall and suddenly 6 farmer guys came out and unloaded everything is an instant. Daniel suggested I go inside and take a look. I did and it was incredibly touching. There were a bunch of local farm people who are dirt poor and they had set up a refugee supply center in their town hall. It was all from the local people in that poor part of the world. They had everything from diapers and baby strollers to clothes and of course food and water. It was so heart-warming to see. It felt really good to see such a welcoming outreach from those Slovakians.
As I drove out of town the soldiers were all happy and smiling and waving. I don’t think they ever really wanted to stop me; they were just doing their jobs and once they had heard a good enough lie, they were glad they could wave me forward. Sweet, eh?
The refugees I saw at the border were only women with small children. The women were crying. Their husbands had just dropped them off to cross to safety and the men were returning to the fight.
And then I turned homewards feeling sick in my stomach that I had no way to do more or to help fight those Russian bastards. All the way home for two days I pondered how could I fight back? Thus the birth of the Drone idea.